The 700 Club
Amy Parham: From Fat to Fit
By The 700 Club
PILING ON THE POUNDS
Amy always had trouble with her weight. “I was literally raised in the back of a Dairy Queen,” says Amy, whose mom owned a franchise while she was growing up. “So I ate ice cream every night.”
As she got older, food became an emotional crutch. “I had always turned to food in times of stress, sadness, happiness, anger, or just about any emotion. It became instinctual,” she writes in her latest book, 10 Lessons from a Former Fat Girl.
For example, when her husband Phil’s business began to fail, and her youngest son, Rhett, was diagnosed with autism in 2004, Amy turned to food to fight off depression.
But with her husband Phil, who was also overweight, by her side, Amy turned her situation over to God and slowly their lives turned around. They found new careers and therapy for Rhett. Though they were inspired, Amy and Phil were still too busy to give much thought to their health. At her heaviest, Amy was 229 pounds.
Then one day, Amy, who was a fan of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, was on the sofa, eating ice cream and crying. She decided to go online to the show’s Web site. She filled out an application for herself and her husband to be contestants on the show.
Several months later, after auditioning, Phil and Amy were off to Los Angeles as finalists, though they weren’t promised a slot on the show. The next week, Bob Harper, one of the show’s fitness trainers, surprised them at home to announce that they were accepted out of 300,000 contestants. They didn't realize how much their lives were about to change.
They endured hard training for the show, eight hours a day for seven months. Together they lost 256 pounds, setting a couples’ weight-loss record on the program. Though they didn’t win, Amy was a top three finalist; Phil was eliminated earlier. Amy weighed 124 pounds by the final episode.
KEEPING IT OFF
Both Amy and her husband maintain the healthy weight because they incorporated permanent lifestyle changes that they learned on The Biggest Loser. Phil weighs 180 pounds and Amy weighs about 140 pounds (she says the 124 lbs. was after losing several pounds in the sauna the night before the finale, and it wasn’t a realistic size for her.) After they got home from the “ranch,” Phil and Amy got a lot of questions about how they lost their weight. So they came up with the “90-Day Fitness Challenge” based on how they did it themselves.
But still, there was more about her journey that Amy wanted to share. She says she felt like so many people knew the basics about nutrition and exercise, but didn’t have the will-power to overcome. The more she talked to people about their struggles with weight, the more she realized it was a heart issue. That was something she could relate to.
“After I lost the weight, and I was home and the cameras were off, I realized the food was like my parachute, and so what am I going to do now?” she says. “It was like I had to realize the hole inside me came from somewhere. Where did it come from?”
For her entire life, she’d seen herself as the “fat girl,” and Amy knew she would have to transform not only her body, but her way of thinking, before the “fit girl” could make her debut. “The weight-loss process revealed deeper issues that had caused us to put on the weight in the first place. Dealing with these issues would become the real challenge and the thing that solidified the transformation from the fat girl to the fit girl.”
She shares insights from that journey in her new book, 10 Lessons from a Former Fat Girl. “This is not a diet book or a manual to make you a skinny supermodel in 45 days,” Amy says. “This book will help those who might be addicted to food, and addresses the mental, physical and emotional issues that are tied to being overweight.” She says, “It’s about learning how to transform the fat girl (a woman who has poor eating and exercise habits, a food addiction, a lack of self-esteem, and a distorted image of herself, God, and others) into a fit girl (a woman who practices healthy eating and exercise habits, takes care of herself emotionally, physically, and mentally, and believes in herself and God).
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